1hr 34mins

Julia Ducournau’s Palme d'Or knockout Titane wasn’t the first time she caused a stir at Cannes, her sensational directorial debut Raw is a brilliantly bloody feminist fable about a young woman's emerging taste for human flesh.

Julia Ducournau

Ducournau’s beautifully nightmarish debut is told through the eyes of Justine (Garance Marillier), a timid yet gifted student and devout vegetarian who uncovers a dangerously seductive world during her first week at veterinary school.

During sadistic hazing rituals on her first night, Justine is drenched in pigs’ blood (evoking Stephen King’s classic response to society’s fear of women’s power – Carrie) before being forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney. Justine’s first taste of animal flesh ignites something primal within her, awakening a lustful hunger she never realised was there.

As Justine grapples with her increasingly insatiable desires and the alluring chaos of decadent student life, Raw transforms into an exhilarating blend of horror, humour and heartbreak.

Ducournau’s use of stomach-churning body horror – often shown in unflinching close-up – viscerally narrates Justine’s metamorphosis from naïve innocence to carnivorous maturity as she begins to uncover her true self.

Whilst the use of nauseating bodily transformations carries hints of Davids Cronenberg and Lynch, Raw is very much its own beast, with a ferociously independent vision. Using the tropes of body horror to speak directly to the bodies of the audience, the effect of Raw is direct, personal and confronting.

But despite many squirm-inducing moments you’ll want to watch through your fingers, at its very core Ducournau’s film is an intimate and tender celebration of womanhood and self-acceptance, and a powerful dissection of how society gazes at the female form.

Raw screens as a part of The Monstrous-Feminine film season – to find out more click here.


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